The Girard First Presbyterian Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
An anniversary service was held at the church, with dinner at the Victorian Room in Niles, with the Rev. Deborah Dockstader. Guests included Dan Schomer, general presbyter with the Eastminister Presbytery, and other Presbyterian ministers, as well as current and past church members.
The church was organized in 1909 and was first located on State Street. The Rev. Bert Harrison was the first minister, with nine pastors having since served at the church. The church became self-sustaining in 1942 and then eventually relocated to its current location at 890 Churchill Hubbard Road in 1962.
Girard Community News / Bob Coupland
The Girard First Presbyterian Church celebrated its 100th anniversary with a special service at the church and a luncheon held at the Victorian Room in Niles. In attendance are, from left, the Rev. Henry Pierce, pastor of Niles / Vienna Presbyterian churches, the Rev. John Sharick, former executive presbytery with Eastern Presbytery, Bill Moore, longtime church member, the Rev. Deborah Dockstader, pastor of Girard and Niles Southside Presbyterian churches, the Rev. Al Shakley, pastor emeritus, the Rev. Dan Schomer, general presbytery with Eastern Presbytery, and Alex Milne, emcee for the anniversary program.
The Rev. Al Shakley served the church as minister the longest, from 1955 to 1993.
Dockstader, who also serves as minister at Niles Southside Presbyterian Church, has been with the Girard church for 12 years.
In 1910, the congregation began holding services in the Walsh Congregational Church on Wilson Avenue. This building was later purchased by the First Presbyterian Congregation and served as its house of worship for 52 years.
In March 1956, the church secured the services of the Wells Organization to conduct fund raising for the construction of a new church. A three-year campaign raised $67,500 in donations. A second campaign was launched, and an additional $47,000 was raised.
Through the efforts of Harry J. Moore, the land that is now the site of the church was purchased. Construction was completed by Earnest Bernard Construction of Hubbard, and the first service in the new building was held Nov. 4, 1962.
In 1975, the congregation voted to add permanent pews to the current sanctuary, foregoing the idea of a large fellowship hall. The church now had a formal place to worship. This year, a gas well was drilled on the church property, and it will provide heat at almost no cost; a true blessing in these challenging times, Dockstader said.
''It is well known throughout Eastminster Presbytery that our church, though small in stature, possesses a big heart for mission work and an active spirit for outreach to our community,'' she said.
Over the years, the church has increased its outreach to the community and helped its young people build a solid foundation for the future, she said. The church does a lot of mission work, providing items for the Emmanuel Community Center, the Warren Rescue Mission and Samaritan's Purse, she said.
Donna Nagy, an anniversary committee member and clerk of session, said, ''For a small church likes ours to be celebrating 100 years is a credit to the congregation.''
The church has 70 members and often takes part in activities with the Presbyterian churches in Niles and Vienna.
''This is a good family church. I enjoy the people and the good spirit. The members are very dedicated,'' Dockstader said.
Nagy said she enjoys the camaraderie and cooperation among the members who host dinners and concerts.
Dockstader and Nagy said they look forward to seeing where God takes the church in the next 100 years.
Fifty-year or more members were honored during the celebration . Those honored for their membership and years of service included Mary Adams and David J. Rees Jr., both 73 years; Frances Gerke and William Moore, 60; Sandra Watson, 58; Lillian White, Carole Kompanik and Roberta Williams, 57; Janet Weller and Carl Wulfert, 56; William Adam, 55; Wilma Woodford, 54; and Marrlyn Shakley, 52.